The Eastern Partnership initiative, a cooperation involving six countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), emerged from a Polish-Swedish idea in June 2008, and developed into an official program one year later. The quest was to improve the relations between the EU and the partner countries in different ways, thus offering a prospect for them which can eventually lead to EU membership. (As Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said: “to the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours”.)The program is based on bilateral as well as multilateral relations including political and economic ties, through meetings and conferences at different levels.Read More »
The elections for the national Swiss council took place on October 23 2011. What has changed and what can be expected from the “stubborn” country in the middle of Europe?
This year, a modest but constant leftist- wave has started to overrun central Europe. Starting in the city elections of Hamburg and Berlin and then in national elections of Denmark, “Social Democrats have lost votes even though they succeeded in defending (Berlin/ Hamburg) or capturing (Denmark) political power”, concludes Christian Levrat, president of the Swiss Social Democrats, “and I am very satisfied that we could achieve the same in Switzerland.”Read More »
- Part of the racist problem
A Rice-picking Chinese girl? A Wine swilling Aboriginal man? They are just the tip of the iceberg.
In Copenhagen airport there is a shirtless, bearded Indigenous Australian man. His face is painted and he appears generally unrefined, except for the glass of red wine held beneath his lips. The historical context of two hundred years of colonialism is neatly sidestepped. Here he is, the poster boy for both an Australian restaurant in the city and of the prickly debate surrounding cultural difference and multiculturalism in the Western world.Read More »
- Human Rights, Religion and Politics
When it comes to human rights, and the lack thereof, it is usually dictatorships in other parts of the world that come to mind. It is easy to forget that these complex questions may just as well surface in Europe; for example Poland, a stable democracy with strong Catholic roots, also has some human rights issues on the political agenda, much due to incompatibility between cultural-religious traditions and the contemporary, more liberal trends in human rights.Read More »
Asylum-seekers, being in that vulnerable position, could be seen as the subject par excellence of the human rights and most in need of a grid of protection. And to be sure, again and again their rights are violated. In Europe, a grim record of human rights violations, in the wake of the Dublin II regulation and the failure of the Greek asylum system, is being exposed. The human rights institutions have been harsh in their critique, but what has been achieved?
On 21 september 2010, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) declared the asylum situation in Greece a “humanitarian crisis”. The situation has been problematic for a long time. A large number of reports speak of a malfunctioning asylum system, unable to effectively determine the asylum claims being made, and a systematic practice of detaining asylum seekers for periods ranging from a few days to a few months without adequate information given as to the reasons for detention. Furthermore the detention facilities are reported as being overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in ventilation, mattresses and access to toilets.Read More »